What is an Open Riser Staircase?

Simply put, an open riser staircase (also called a floating staircase) is one where the spaces between the treads are open, rather than closed. In the past, staircases have traditionally had risers that connect each step. Think of the carpeted staircases of your grandmother’s house.

Removing the riser (the vertical part that connects each step) frees up the space between the treads, creating an airy, minimalistic look. This style of stairway is a modern choice that is quickly rising — no pun intended — in popularity.

office switchback modern stairs

Different Types of Stairs

There are many different styles and variations of open riser stairs. One of the most popular configurations is the straight stair: these stairs move from one floor to the next without turning or stopping at a landing platform. This look is simple and minimalistic, and it’s especially common in open-concept homes.

mono stringer stair before & after

Another popular style of open riser stairs is the 90°, or L-Shaped, stair. These stairs change direction, typically using a landing platform. They’re ideal for homes with small spaces, where the staircase needs to conserve room.

Many people wonder how much it would cost to make a renovation to their home like this. The simple answer is: it depends. There are many contributing factors, such as the type of infill and configuration of staircase that you choose. Thankfully, Viewrail offers a variety of options floating star pricing options to fit into all kinds of budgets.

How is that different from a mono or double stringer?

First of all, it’s important to understand the function of a metal stair stringer. A stair stringer is built to support the staircase, either from the bottom or from the sides. In the past, stair stringers were installed in threes and hidden away inside the drywall of the house.

But nowadays, stair stringers are often installed as single stringers (also called mono stringers) or in doubles. At Viewrail, we construct our stairs with mono stringers: a single, metal piece that supports the staircase from below.

As you learned above, an open riser staircase is simply a stairway that removes the risers between each step. Typically, open riser staircases use mono or double stringers to support their structure. This is not always the case. For example, cantilevered stairs are typically fixed to the wall using a support structure.

What are the benefits of an open riser staircase?

An open riser staircase provides a modern, contemporary look. It allows more light to flow through the room, thanks to its open-concept figure. In great contrast to the boxy, closed-in staircases of the past, open riser staircases are a way to bring modern design to homes and businesses alike. Open riser stairs are also extremely versatile.
Open Concept Staircase

They can be designed in a variety of configurations — including straight, 90°, and switchback. Each style is built to fit a different home’s setup, and can even be ordered in a custom configuration to fit a more specific need.

Finally, floating or open riser stairs are simple to install for anyone from contractors to DIY homeowners. The staircase is supported by a steel mono stringer, which can be bolted together on the job site. You will simply need to measure the dimensions of your home, choose your style of staircase, and then put together the components on site.

Treads for an Open Riser Staircase

One of the most important parts of the open riser staircase are the stair treads. That’s where your eye is first drawn, because of the open-concept design. Thick stair treads are the ideal complement to this modern staircase. They come in a range of sizes, from 1½” to 4”. If you have an outdoor staircase, you can order the treads in a special endurance option.

Other Things to Consider with an Open Staircase

As floating or open riser staircases continue to rise in popularity, some people have become concerned about the safety of floating stairs. However, open riser staircases can be just as safe as a traditional staircase. It’s simply important to make sure that your staircase meets international and local code requirements. If you comply with these requirements, your open riser staircase will be just as safe — and much more modern — than traditional closed riser stairs.